Day 47: Padron to Santiago de Compostela - Grampies Go Valencia to Paris: Spring 2024 - CycleBlaze

March 24, 2024

Day 47: Padron to Santiago de Compostela

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Breakfast at the hotel was minimal, but it did demonstrate what we say is the right way to administer a minimal breakfast. That is, you assemble whatever it is you are going to give the clients onto plates, and present then with that. That way it's clear what is and is not available. In the photo below, orange juice is yet to come, but it came automatically. The only questions were about the hot drink.

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Because we had now drawn within 30 km of Santiago, I had a tendency to think the objective was won, and I was just looking forward to all the fun to come in Santiago. But as they say, "it's not over until it's over". The first thing that came up was that sniffles that had started for me two days ago showed they were not going away. I had been avoiding saying the "C" word, but this was a bad time to be getting a cold. I know the routine. First I will fill a 17L garbage can or equivalent with Kleenex. At home, that's a six pack of big tissue boxes from the grocery. On the road, it's a struggle to find enough napkins and toilet paper. Once the nose blowing has run a good course, the coughing starts. If I'm in luck it's for a week, if unlucky, a month.  I really did not want to be coughing in the cathedral, or on the train.

The second thing was that the day started at 8 degrees, with a stiff chilling headwind. We had gotten used to not needing our warmest gear, but I ended with the down sweater underneath the rain parka, and some hand warmers inside the long gloves.

Lastly, Santiago is up a hill. We once again were looking for the ideal  balance of traffic, mud, hill, and all that in choosing a route.

We started out at the cemetery, or at least we are starting with a photo of the cemetery. It caught our eye because almost every grave seemed to have fresh flowers. We are guessing it has to do with this being Palm Sunday. 

By the way, we have been trying to swot up on the Holy Week narrative, to understand where the various days of the Week fit in. Readers may laugh, but we did not exactly know the story before our research at breakfast today. If you are in the same boat, here's the very potted version:

Jesus decided to go to Jerusalem, some say to provoke the authorities into a rash action. Meanwhile Jesus had been gathering a following, and could be viewed as a threat. Palm Sunday marks his triumphal entry (on a donkey) to Jerusalem, where he was greeted by people waving/dropping palm fronds.  (Fronds play a role in modern celebrations of this, but they could also be olive or from other trees.) Jesus hung around in the early part of the week - not sure what he did Monday and Tuesday. but by Wednesday we get "Spy Wednesday" when Judas began plotting his betrayal.  Thursday was Passover and Jesus had a seder with the disciples - the Last Supper. This was when came up with the "eucharist" - the idea of the bread and the wine being his body and blood. This day is called Maundy Thursday. Friday Jesus gets arrested and convicted by a Jewish tribunal of "working on the Sabbath". He stepped out of line by healing people that day. In a double jeopardy kind of situation, he also got convicted by Herod of claiming to be the king of the Jews - which was treason.  The cruxifiction was that day - Friday, so it seems they fit in a betrayal, two trials, and an execution in just one day. The Resurrection was then on Sunday- so that is Easter Sunday.

Fresh flowers for Easter.
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A Common Buzzard.
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We think this is a Serin.
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We joined the walkers for a certain part of the journey. Their route is marked "CP" on our maps, for Camino Portugues. We could not stick with them all the way, because there is a certain amount of goat trail and/or stairs to it.

Hey, wait for us.
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completely switching Easter mythology, there was this Bunny by the trail.
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Despite any prior concerns, the ways we took to Santiago this day turned out to be fine. By and large they were quiet country lanes, with some climbing but nothing that felt insane. Plus, cars were largely absent from the equation today. (With one major exception: we needed to make a right turn off one of the narrow roads, so we moved from our usual hugging of the right hand side into the middle of the lane. A car appeared from the distance, raced up, and not only honked at us, but pulled to the left hand  (oncoming) lane so as to threaten us as we made the turn,)

Our way mostly looked like this today.
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Save money on laundry with this washing machine!
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A lonely chapel.
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It just continued to look like this.
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and this.
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But here is some excitement. Our lane turned into a little less than a goat track.
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We had to put Steve on the case, for both bikes.
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but soon, back to this.
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OK, that narrowed a bit.
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Overall, we got the feeling today. more than others, of travelling through a Spain of bygone years. This helped amplify the emotion of having actually achieved something, felt most keenly this time by Dodie, when at last we found ourselves in front of the Cathedral.

The Cathedral of Santiago
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Finding themselves in the same situation, I am not saying that many walkers collapsed, as in a marathon, but they did plop themselves down in the middle of nowhere.
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The boots come off.
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There is Dodie, but still on her feet. (Too stiff to do much plopping.)
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A little later we organized a passer by to snap our photo, which will be a mate for the one we did in 2017. I had to lighten the background a lot so that our faces could be seen, but I think it's an ok shot.

The Grampies have reached Santiago (again).
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We walked around the outside of the cathedral and came upon a crowd near a side door. It was our first procession of the visit, in this case the Procession of the Donkey, put on by the Brotherhood of Jesus' Triumphal Entrance into Jerusalem. A different Brotherhood takes on each of the 13 processions that will happen in this town during the week. Readers who did not skip my theology paragraph above will know why a donkey and why this is the first procession!

I would have to penetrate this crowd to get a shot of the float.
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Got it. Not sure if the donkey doesn't look more like a cow from this angle.
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We hung around the catherdral squares for a while, gawking at the architecture and the crowds.
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A lady came up to Dodie, being one of many in the crowd carrying olive branches. She said hers had been properly blessed by the archbishop (a tradition with the branches) and gave some to Dodie. Later research showed that you put these in your bible for about a year, and burn them on shrove Tuesday. You can then wear the ashes the next day, I guess, Ash Wednesday.
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Another look at those successful Grampies.
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We made our way a very short distance along the narrow lanes, to our hotel, the Rua Vilar, which is on one of the main "alleys" of the old town. The people there were incredibly nice. Our room was not ready, but they (themselves) carried our bikes up two floors and deposited them in a beautiful sitting room. They had us take off the bags so they could store them, and later they put them in our room while we were out walking. They even deposited Dodie's olive branch.

Our hotel, and the cathedral.
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The bikes are happy in their room.
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With bikes and bags stowed, we set off into the town for a look around.

Narrow streets with lots of people = fun.
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Many of the shops have souvenirs, and I am an avid customer, though limited in carrying capacity.

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This Camino tile hits many of the icons: the stylized coquille, the botafumeiro, the water gourd and cane, and a not stylized coquille.
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Here is a peek inside a tapas bar. We are not into it - seems expensive and crowded.
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Here we see services offered in conjunction with the post office. Tomorrow we will be in there to see about shipping the bikes.
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Ah the habitual shot of a shopping bag we are not getting.
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This group came by marching and singing. We tracked them down later. They are all from Portugal.
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Karen PoretAnd, there is even a gentleman in the crowd wearing a Tilley hat! Oh, Canada 🇨🇦
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3 weeks ago
Some of the kids from Portugal
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The whole Portuguese group.
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An alternative image of me at Santiago, except I do not have a cane.
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Dodie was very eager to find the Pilgrim Office to see if she could parlay the stamps she had been collecting almost daily from churches, TI's, and the hotels along the way, since Alcoutim, into an official recognition of the journey, or Compostela. This was a long shot, since we absolutely had not been able to find a place to issue a creanciale -the official passport used for the stamps - and the rules seemed to call for two stamps per day - the idea being one where you stayed the night (the alburgue) and one other. Still Dodie thought she would give it a try. In this, she would be looking for some flexibility and common sense - from the Catholic Church? are you kidding?

The Church started off with what was already a deal breaker, when dealing with Dodie: they wanted the basic parameters of our trip entered on a touch screen. Say what? How traditional is that? OK, I edged Dodie aside and put in the details. The machine then (literally) spat out a slip with a QR code, which we carried to a line of sort of cashiers, for the next step. Our lady on hearing there was no creanciale, but just a date book of stamps, dropped kicked Dodie (after about 1000 km on the Camino) directly to the rubbish heap. 

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Even though we don't care, and this was just a lark, Dodie's feelings were hurt. I had to take her directly to a restaurant and put in some grilled chicken and salad.

Let's find some food!
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This was good, but the feelings were a little deeper. That took chocolate and churros to fix. 

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I must have been smarting as well, because I picked up this giant local specialty almond cake as well.

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We made our way back to the hotel, and checked in on the bikes, before finding our own super room.

The bikes' room.
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Our room
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After an hour, we nipped out to intercept the second passo of the week - the Procession of Hope. This seems for some reason to be composed of mostly women and children, and it does not involve any heavy lifting of giant floats.

People line up along the route, as we try to scope out the best position.
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Here they come.
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Karen PoretOh dear, the taller participants resemble a KKK hood but in red..What do you think?
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3 weeks ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Karen PoretThe pointed hood with eye holes designated a penitent, in anonymity. Started at about the time of the Inquisition and was copied and adopted by the KKK many centuries later.
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3 weeks ago
Karen PoretTo Steve Miller/GrampiesThank you for the explanation, Steve, and please excuse my uneducated ignorance! Sad that something we know (of) is seen as a threat in someone’s eyes no matter what.
On the other hand, the children in the procession are priceless :)
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3 weeks ago
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The band
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A homey touch.
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Karen PoretNo one looks like they are getting this “homey vibe”…
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The float - no heavy lifting (but some bare feet)
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Our Lady of Hope
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That's about it. Unlike in Sevilla, we did not see 4000 hooded penitents. Maybe tomorrow.
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Now we shifted over the cathedral for the evening mass. This would be the first time since arriving that we actually went inside.

The entrance is around here somewhere.
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Cathedral in the evening light.
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Santiago outside, looks a little stunned.
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The main altar was hard to photograph, but the layout had an image of St James at a lower level - which can be accessed from behind, where people pat the statue. Then a slew of robust looking angels support a platform on which some even more robust kind of 17th century court ladies are cavorting, plus a mounted St James is defeating some unidentified soldiers.

The general altar impression is of lots of gold, and flamboyant figures.
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These angels with golden wings support a second layer of exuberant figures.
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St James is found at the first level.
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Same shot - with a hand reaching from behind. This is a tradition in the cathedral.
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Above, St. James rides a gold trimmed steed
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He seems to be defeating some soldiers (with Moorish hats, if you zoom in), while court ladies and cupids cavort.
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Another St James on the set, not sure where I found him.
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Some semi-clad cupid type guys at a sort of French Provincial desk at the very top.
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Looking down the other axis of the cathedral (the transept), we have the space where the giant 53 kg botafumeiro swings. The speed can reach 68 kph. You sure would not swing it in the nave, with all those statues!
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The botafumeiro only swings on about a dozen days of the year, like Christmas or Pentecost, unless someone finances a run, at 500-800 euros. Since today was not one of the days, we did not see the action, though we did in 2017. It's a little disappointing since I also like the "St. James Hymn" that they sing at the same time, to organ accompaniment. Fortunately lots of others have filmed this,

By the way, that St.James hymn is a little like a national anthem. It begins "Santo Adalid, Patron de las Espanas, Amigo del Senor, defiende a tus discipulos quieridos, protege a tu nacion.". It goes on to talk of victorious Christian armies, and such. But like all anthems, it's catchy and stirring. As to "Santo Adalid" , I can not track down this reference as most things Google finds just refer back to this specific hymn.

Here is our 5km of circulating around the core of old Santiago. Tomorrow we'll start at the nearby Correos, and then with any success there, range further afield.

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Today's ride: 31 km (19 miles)
Total: 2,337 km (1,451 miles)

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Andrea BrownWell, that was quite the show. I wonder if they've ever actually hit the ceiling with that thing. I do love the smell of "Catholic" incense, though.
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3 weeks ago
Karen PoretNo incense, please! Achoo! Too many headaches! Too many years of Catholic school with “special” Masses.
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3 weeks ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesYes, the incense is a big part of it. In this modern world, the mystery is a bit dampened by Amazon, where you can buy all manner of the stuff for use at home.
https://www.amazon.com/Frankincense-Incense-Vatican-Jerusalem-aditional/dp/B0CGVXSNHY/ref=mp_s_a_1_3?crid=355FZP4XVYWPG&dib=eyJ2IjoiMSJ9.upFxwlCV7N8EbDRZJaBiXwX-mf66IEhrTXXz-2uRFsssJBcrz2fUj5nWHF8C_HA-ACR0RM-W870QonR1oxa6i17wgELuQyWyrJSvUSUG16hzaojMXYFX_7GYg7_80YJ_EQ20e8HbugcKmv_Qp5gIag.lxX6neqO8ZSGWoSGWK0i_TOp7oCjulwBYBcBGbWvU18&dib_tag=se&keywords=vatican+incense&qid=1711348187&sprefix=vatican+incense%2Caps%2C225&sr=8-3

Sorry for the long url, we need to encourage Jeff to put the toolbar in the comments.
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3 weeks ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Karen PoretInteresting difference in experiences. As children of the 60s we always thought of incense as rather cool
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3 weeks ago
Karen PoretTo Steve Miller/GrampiesAs a child of the 50’s, even the Sisters had a difficult time “not choking up”. Now I understand why they usually had a hankie over their nose :)
Don’t get me started about the Haight-Ashbury scene, Steve ;)
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3 weeks ago
Jacquie GaudetTo Andrea BrownI like it too, though having been brought up a Catholic and required to attend Mass every week until I moved out, I only encountered it once or twice as a child. I still remember it--and have only been to church for weddings and funerals in over 40 years.
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3 weeks ago